The Option for the
Poor is an Option for Justice, and not Preferential.
A new theological-systematic framework for the Option for the Poor
Due to the irrefutable biblical, evangelical and theological foundation
of the "option for the poor"--trademark of Liberation Theology--and
given the strength of its own internal evidence, the only strategy to fight
against it has been to attempt to de-naturalize it, turning it into something
"preferential" and trying to show that its foundation is the "Gratuitousness"
of God. This would make it susceptible to becoming misplaced into the order
of charity, which tends to be politically conservative and assistance-based.
Some liberation theologians seem to have become comfortable with this strategy.
The author denounces this and shows that the option for the poor is not preferential
but partial and exclusive, and that it is not based on God's Gratuitousness
but on God's Justice.
Status of the Question
We always said that the option for the
poor was rooted in God himself, in the being of God and therefore by nature
was theo-centric: in a certain sense,
we can say that God makes an option in favor of the poor and that God «is»
the option for the poor. There
was universal consensus that this option for the poor is based precisely on
the Love-Justice of the biblical-Christian God.
Nevertheless, with the recent «liberation
theology crisis» some authors have softened their discourse about the option
for the poor. They have abandoned the Love-Justice perspective and substituted the «Gratuitousness»
of God as the basis for the option for the poor. In this new way of thinking,
God simply «prefers» the poor or there is a «weakness» in God’s mercy or an
uncontrollable «tenderness» toward the poor. Thus there would be no need to
search for any other reason, because the option is «gratuitous».
From this perspective, the option for
the poor becomes a «whim» of God toward the «the lowly, the weak and the insignificant».
So now we speak of the «lowly» and not «the poor» with the powerful meaning found in the classical
discourse that today has been suppressed. In this theology, the option for
the poor has disassociated itself from the strong theme of justice and replaced
it with the more acceptable theme of gratuitousness.
My thesis is that this rewording and
shifting of the focus from God’s Justice to God’s Gratuitousness as a basis
for the option for the poor, weakens and ultimately misappropriates the option,
(consciously or unconsciously), converting it into a simple «preference»,
a «preferential love», a priority in the order of charity, and thus it is no longer a true «option», no longer a selective
and an exclusive taking of sides and no longer a fundamental option rooted
in the very nature of God.
I do not deny that in some sense it can be said that «God has a gratuitous
preference for the lowly and the weak»; but I maintain that such a «preference»
cannot be identified in a strict sense with the option for the poor (even less
can it be seen as the basis for the this option). To confuse the option for
the poor with this «preference of God toward the lowly and the weak» or with
the so called «preferential love for the poor» and then name it a preferential
option, is to become the victim of confusion and submit oneself to the strategy
of those who have attempted to give a new meaning to the option for the poor
and strip it of its proper content. The original and classical Latin American
option for the poor, that which is typical of the theological spirituality of
liberation, the option for which our martyrs died and that which we consider
«firm and irrevocable» is different than and must be distinguished from any
later deviations. A courageous and enlightened fidelity ought to reject, consciously
and explicitly, this false basis that roots the option for the poor in God’s
«gratuitousness». This is what I want to clarify and to do so, it is best to
reframe systematically the very nature of the option for the poor.
In a strict sense, God loves without
any preference or discrimination
To state otherwise would be anthropomorphism.
God cares for and loves all equally; God
loves each individual with a very particular love, an infinite love that is
impossible to quantify. No one should feel him/herself «preferred» over another or discriminated
against either positively or negatively. It is impossible to speak seriously
about «preferential love» on the part of God toward certain persons. The dignity
of the human person and the impartiality of God demand that we affirm anew
God’s infinite love toward all people. Anything else is simply an inadequate
form of speech that is «too human», anthropomorphic.
God is not partial and has «no favorites». God is not motivated by race or
color or gender or culture. God loves all creatures with «an incomparable and
unqualified» love. In God there can be no preferences or discrimination.
God opts for Justice, not preferentially
but rather in a partial and exclusive manner
There is an area, however, where God
is radically and inflexibly partial: the area of justice. God places himself
on the side of justice and against injustice, with no compromises or «preferences»,
certainly not «neutral»: God is against injustice and takes the side of those
«treated unjustly», that is, the victims of injustice. God does not make nor
can he make «a preferential option for justice»:
rather God opts for justice by placing himself in a radical position against
injustice and totally assuming the Cause of the victims of injustice.
This option of God for justice is not rooted
in his «gratuitousness», nor is it some kind of divine «whim» which could
have been something else or simply never have come into existence, as if the
divine approval of justice obeys a simple ethical voluntarism.
God’s option for justice is rooted in his very being: God cannot exist in any
other way and indeed without this option God would contradict and deny his very
being. «By nature» God is the option for Justice and this option is not gratuitous
(but rather axiologically inevitable), not contingent (but rather necessary),
not arbitrary (but rooted in the very being of God), not preferential (but rather
partial and exclusive).
The option for the poor is an option
for the victims of injustice
The concept «poor» as part of the expression
«option for the poor», has caused certain confusion. In effect, if the option
is «for the poor», then one is explicably tempted to situate the foundation
of this option in «poverty», thus falsely identifying poverty with holiness
(which was avoided from the beginning), or metaphorically orienting the concept
of «poverty» in a different direction or aligning it with one of the groups
which in the Old Testament seems to be the object of «preference» on the part
of God («the weak and the lowly») or giving it a meaning that was never intended.
We can avoid these deviations if we bring
to light the theological role that the concept «poor» concretely plays in
the expression «option for the poor». Theologically speaking, «poor» refers
precisely to those who are «the victims of injustice». God does not opt for
the poor because they are poor, (economically or materially), but opts for
the poor because they are «the victims of injustice». Economic poverty is
not in itself a theological category, but injustice, often a cause of economic
poverty, is a theological category. Theologically considered «the option for
the poor» is in reality an «option for the victims of injustice». If it is called «option for the poor», this is due to the fact
that the poor (economically) are the primary victims of injustice and its
par excellence expression. Speaking with theological precision, the
subjects of this option for the poor cannot be identified with the «economically
poor» in themselves nor with «the poor who are good», or with those who are
«poor in some other sense of the word» or who are «poor in spirit»… (because
of the metaphorical word games, all of these definitions are elusive and inadequate),
rather the subjects of this option are «the victims of injustice», economically
poor or not, metaphorically or not.
On the contrary, the «lowly and the weak»
or all those whose «poverty» cannot be measured in terms of injustice, cannot be identified as the first
recipients of the option for the poor, except through metaphorical extension.
They can be the object of God’s and our «special tenderness» and graciousness,
but this attitude and feeling should not be confused with the option for the
Every human problem that can be called
unjust (even though it may have nothing to do with «poverty» in the literal
or economic sense) is the object of the option for the poor (because this
is an option for justice). Even though they might not be directly linked with
economic poverty, yet racial discrimination, gender discrimination, cultural
discrimination… as forms of injustice (indeed very clearly so), are the object
of the option for the poor -- not because they are expressions of some form
of poverty (which they are not) but because they are forms of injustice.
The option for the culturally despised, for those living on the fringes of
society, for those oppressed because of their gender, are not different options
from the option for the poor, but rather concretizations of the only «option
for the victims of injustice», which we call the option for the poor.
The theological-systematic essence of
the option for the poor and its foundation is God’s option for Justice.
Theologically speaking, in a systematic-dogmatic
sense, the true nature of the option for the poor is God’s option for Justice.
The «theological radiography» of the option for the poor, the foundation that
sustains it and that which in reality constitutes it, is God’s option for
If God’s relation to justice is set aside
in such a way that the option appears to be one of «gratuitous good will»
on the part of God, then the option for the poor becomes lost in a way that
weakens and confuses and strips it of its very nature, turning it into a simple
«preferential love» or an optional option, gratuitous, arbitrary, contingent,
disconnected from justice, reduced to «charity» and benevolence.
God’s option for justice is greater than,
and precedes, that which the theology of liberation understood and expressed
as the option for the poor. The option for the poor is an expression of (indeed
an important expression but not one which totally captures) the option of
God for justice. The option for the poor is one way for us to understand,
express and assume this option of God for justice.
«Option for the poor» is a pastoral, historical
phrase, chosen to help us in our understanding. But theologically-systematically
considered, that is, examining its deepest theological essence, the option
for the poor «is» the option for justice, and the term that best expresses
its theological nature would be «option for the victims of injustice». We are not saying that we must now change the name of this option,
but rather we are simply calling attention to the fact that the name does
not correspond to that which would be «an essential definition» of the option
for the poor.
As an option for justice, the option
for the poor is not preferential, but rather selective and exclusive. On the
other hand, the preferential option for the poor is simply a priority and
not an «option».
The option for the poor is the adoption
of a spiritual position (wholly human and therefore, also social and political)
in favor of the poor in their concrete social, historical, and conflictive
situation. Therefore it is an option that is selective and exclusive, and demands that we work on behalf
of certain people and against others.
The option, (not preferential) for the
poor pertains to the area of justice and is rooted in God’s option for justice.
On the contrary, the «preferential option for the poor» pertains to the area
of charity and can be placed in relationship
with the gratuitousness of God. The option for the poor is not applicable
to natural poverties whereas the preferential option for the poor is
only applicable to these natural poverties.
The option for the poor sees poverty
as an injustice to be eradicated by a political and transforming love, by
a social praxis, as an act of justice. The preferential option for the poor,
however, sees poverty as a lamentable reality but perhaps natural, that is,
as a reality that has to be compensated for by acts of gratuitous generosity
Making the option for the poor «preferential»,
that is, displacing the option for the poor and substituting it with the preferential
option for the poor serves to obscure the framework of justice and then views
reality solely from the perspective of beneficence and material assistance.
To put it another way, it reduces Christian love to private mercy and spiritual
solidarity. Indeed, the opposition to the option for the poor -and in general
the opposition to the theology and spirituality of liberation where this option
for the poor first saw the light of day- has served as the principal objective
of those who have attempted to reverse the post-conciliar renewal of Latin
American spirituality as expressed in Medellin and Puebla and of those who
want to return to a Church that legitimatizes the capitalist and neo-liberal
system that is also openly hostile to the Church of Latin American liberation
and its many martyrs.
When applied to the option for the poor, the adjective «preferential», implies
a relation of simple priority between distinct entities that are at one and
the same time inclusive and mutually exclusive. Thus the option for the poor
is stripped of its nature and becomes a simple priority or a hierarchical preference
and ultimately denies the possibility of a radical option for one of the entities
that has been reduced to a preferential relationship. Thus, speaking precisely,
the preferential option for the poor is not an option for the poor, but rather,
as stated by its rhetoricians, is a simple «preferential love» in the strict
sense of the word. The addition of the word «preferential»
has served in many cases as the «Trojan horse» that has introduced into the
option for the poor the seed that destroys its very nature. Fortunately, there
are many people who have adopted the use of this adjective (because of external
pressures) without abandoning (internally) the radical understanding and lived
reality that forms the genuine nature of the option for the poor, that is, not
preferential, but exclusive and excluding other options.
Applications and Corollaries
Option for the poor: a transcendental
on the level of norm of norms
In its theological-systematic meaning
(over and above its concrete application to non-theological mediations or
as distinct from these mediations), the option for the poor is a transcendental
that surpasses and moves beyond the theological dimensions and pertains essentially
to the very image of the biblical-Christian God. Our God (at the very heart
and Christian revelation and per se) «is» an option for justice , with absolute precedence
over and totally independent of any theological school or any charism or spirituality
in which we might situate ourselves. Seen in this way, the option for the
poor is not susceptible to be normative in a subordinate position
(it is situated on the highest level of norm of norms) and therefore
demands obedience as though one were obeying God, thus opening one’s spirit
to the test of greater love.
In this same sense, the option for the poor is not a «theory» of Latin American
liberation theology, but rather a transcendental dimension of Christianity,
a dimension of liberation theology (for the benefit of all Christians) that
has been rediscovered as belonging to the very essence of God. This rediscovery
is indeed «the greatest event in the history of Christianity that has occurred
during the past few centuries», and marks a «before» and «after», a defining
moment, with no turning back for those for whom the option for the poor has
been a spiritual experience of conversion to the God of the poor. The option
for the poor has to be seen as «firm and irrevocable» and as a «mark of the
Poverty, wealth and injustice
With respect to the identification of
the option for the poor with the option for justice, let us speak at length
in more precise language.
- If the poverty of an individual or a
group is due to the fact that they have been the victims of injustice, then to that extents God is on the side of these poor persons and
against their poverty and the persons who cause this poverty-injustice. God
is necessarily on the side of the poor in a way that «excludes» the injustice
of the unjust and not simply on their side with a non-exclusive «preferential
If, however, we are dealing with some
type of «poverty» that has nothing to do with justice («natural poverty» due
to race, gender, culture...), then we must understand that God does not discriminate
nor does God «prefer» one person to another. God neither prefers nor ignores
any race or gender or culture per se.
- If the wealth of an individual or a group
implies an injustice, then to that extents God is decisively against this
wealth and against the way of life that has produced this wealth because God
takes the side of those who suffer the consequences of injustice and is against
those who cause this injustice. God necessarily takes on this attitude and does so in a way that
excludes this injustice and not with an option that is only «preferential
toward the poor» but in a way that radically excludes «the way of life of
the rich» that produces this injustice.
If, however, we are dealing with wealth
that has nothing to do with injustice (psychological qualities, gender, spiritual
and/or natural gifts, misfortune...) then in this case God neither discriminates
nor is partial toward anyone.
To put it another way:
- If in the social order we only see people
as people of color or not, as short or tall, as strong or weak, as significant
or insignificant … (that is, if we see people simply in terms of their natural
differences and ignore their dialectical, conflictive and political differences) then we can only think of God as having some concrete «preference»
toward the lowly, the weak, the insignificant… but not making an «option»
or taking sides with one group that excludes another (because this would be
unjust of God). The foundation for this «preference» is the «gratuitousness» of God
and demands us to be benevolent and to act with kindness and alms giving.
This is the preferential option for the poor.
- If in the social order we are able to see people impoverished by others who
are enriched, races dominated by dominant cultures, genders oppressed by
oppressing genders… then we are able to grasp the fact that God is incapable
of simple «preferences» without true «options» and «taking the side» of the
victims of injustice and «against» injustice, and that this option of God is
radical, selective, and excludes the opposite. Its theological foundation is
not the gratuitousness of God, but rather God’s justice, and therefore demands
us to make a similar «option»: radical, selective and exclusive, with implications
for an option to a «social role» and with a commitment to a praxis that transforms
history. This is the option for the poor.
The concept of justice as mediation
Logically, theological principles, as
they are put into practice in the real world, are obliged to pass through
the diverse filters of philosophical, sociological and even political mediation.
For example, the very concept of «justice»
with all its philosophical, sociological, political and even cultural implications
will be an especially influential mediation when referring to this «option
for the poor». There is a capitalist concept of justice as well as a socialist,
neo-liberal and imperialist concept. People are influenced by their concept
of justice and by the «social role» they play or choose. Those who see justice
as «giving to each one his/her due», can see the world of extreme inequality
as just if, for example, they hold as absolute the right to private property.
This was certainly not the case for the Fathers of the Church, nor is it so
for those who embrace the concept of distributive and social justice according
to the social doctrine of the Church. Indeed these people operate with a very
different concept of justice.
In this sense, even though we theoretically
make reference to the same God, and accept as evident God’s option for justice,
yet our vision of God’s will for the world can differ and we may very well
hold positions that are completely contradictory to the positions of others.
What is the origin of this discrepancy?
The discrepancy is not rooted in our concept
of God or his plan or will, but rather in the concept of justice that we use
to form our moral judgments. The origin of these discrepancies can very well be found in the moral
judgments (based on our concept of justice) that we make about poverty and
wealth and about the social and structural mechanisms that produce them, that
is, do we judge them as natural or historical, determined or flexible, accidental
or caused, culpable or not, structural or circumstantial, an essential product
of a perverse system or an accidental negative by-product of a system that
is not necessarily negative. Therefore, for example,
- if we see the unequal distribution of
wealth in the world as natural (the famous «champagne glass» of the PNUD reports)
then we will also think (logically) that God has nothing to say about all
of this or that God only exhorts us to give alms, to be charitable and generous…
and thus mitigate these lamentable «natural» differences.
- On the contrary, if we see this distribution
of wealth as unjust and sinful, we will think (logically) that God is angry
at this situation and ardently desires its obliteration and that God also
wants us to struggle against this unjust system with a radical commitment
- Again, if we think that the struggle
against this unjust system is the greatest drama of humanity, then it will
seem that overcoming it expresses the best and most urgent will of God.
- If we consider neo-liberalism as innocent
and that it is the «lesser evil of the systems», then it would seem that God
wants us to support it and even «better» its «accidental deficiencies».
- On the contrary, if we believe that neo-liberalism
is unjust, the greatest injustice and unjust in its very structure, then it
would seem that God wants us to combat this sinful structure in the most resolute
Thus it would seem that the theological
problem is orientated toward the discussion and the analysis of the mediations
and that the discrepancies are not found on the theological level of principles
but on the prudential level of mediations. Nevertheless, this is only half the problem, because our concept
of justice forms part of our choice of God. «Tell me how you define justice
and I will tell you who your God is». Tell me how you view justice and I will
tell you about the God you adore.
We are accustomed to think that our concept
of justice comes from the God of our belief, but the opposite is also true:
we believe in a God compatible with our concept of justice. The most fundamental option of our life
might very well be the one we make with regard to our concept of justice,
(justice that at the same time encompasses our world vision). Our image of
God is the child of the option that leads us to choose one or another concept
of justice and its corresponding world vision. The opposite is also true:
many people never assume a utopian concept of justice because previously they
opted for the God of selfishness and wealth.
The option for the poor then, is also an
option for the God (of the poor) and an option for the utopian justice (of
the Kingdom). The «option for the rich» is a rejection
of the God of the poor and an option for a justice resigned to selfishness.
The option for the poor or rich, utopian justice or a justice resigned to
selfishness, the option for God or its rejection are mutually implicit in
a hermeneutical circle. Obedience to God is not determined by a direct relationship
with God, but by our choice between utopian justice and a justice resigned
to selfishness. Principles and mediations are more mutually implied than at first
they might seem to be. God is just and justice is divine. The option for the
poor then is an act of faith in the God of the poor and an ethical and humanizing
option for justice (at one and the same time the justice of the poor and the
justice of God). On the other hand, the option for selfishness is an injustice
and a rejection of the God (of the poor). Thus we return to the beginning:
God and the option for the poor cant be separated because the option for the
poor is rooted in God himself, in God’s justice. The gratuitousness of God
is another theme.
Charles T. Plock, C.M.
Published also, on paper, in:
«Vidyajyoti, Journal of Theological Reflection»
vol 68/7(July 2004)509-520, Dehli, India.
«Voices from the Third World», XXXVII/1(June
2004)7-21, EATWOT, Tiruvalla, India.
of Inculturation Theology», 7/1(April 2005)31-49, Published by Faculty of
Theology, Catholic Institute of West Africa, Lagos, Nigeria
In TROCH, Lieve (edit.), Rainbows
on a Crying Planet. Essays in Honour of Tissa Balasuriya, Christava Sahitya
Samithi, Tiruvalla, India, 2004, pp. 86-100.
EAPR, East Asian Pastoral Review, Manila,
And on the internet:
«SEDOS», Service of Documentation and
Studies on Mission: http://www.sedos.org
> articles in English.
«Let us state clearly: the ultimate reason for this option is found in the
God of our belief (…) For us as believers we are dealing with a theo-centric
option, rooted in God». Gustavo GUTIERREZ, El Dios de
la Vida, «Christus» 47(1982)53-54, Mexico; La fuerza histórico de los
pobres, Lima 1980, p. 261-262.
«God reveal himself as one who makes an option for the poor and this option
is an essential mediation of his revelation». Jon SOBRINO,
Voz Opción por los pobres in FLORISTAN-TAMAYO Conceptos Fundamentales
del Cristianismo, Trotta, Madrid 1993, p. 899.
Even though this may be obvious, see the doctoral thesis of Julio LOIS, Teología
de la Liberación: Opción por los pobres (IEPALA, Madrid 1986) in which
he studies the option for the poor of the leading theologians of the classical
A clear case would be that of Gustavo Gutiérrez. In a lecture in which he
responded to Cardinal Ratzinger, he affirmed: «Speaking about poverty and
marginalization invites us to speak of justice and to consider the rights
of Christians with regard to all of this. While this is true, one should not
lose sight of the fact of what makes this fundamental option for the poor
so central. This option is rooted in the gratuitousness of God’s love. This
is the ultimate basis for this preference». From this moment on, Gutiérrez
no longer uses the word «justice» in his writing and the option for the poor
revolves around the notion of «gratuitousness». See: Una
teología de la liberación en el contexto del tercer milenio, in VARIOS,
El futuro de la reflexión teológica en A.L., CELAM, Bogotá,
1996, p. 111. I am not talking about an isolated text, but in my modest
opinion, this reflects a softened and common perspective in the theology of
the option for the poor of Gustavo which has gone on now for more than a decade;
see: Pobres y opción fundamental, in Mysterium Liberationis,
UCA Editores, San Salvador 1991, 303ff, 310.
The poor are a «collective, conflictive and socially alternate» reality: Clodovis
BOFF, ¿Quiénes son hoy los pobres y por qué? In J. PIXLEY-C. BOFF, Opción por los pobres, Paulinas, Madrid 1986, p.17ff.
A love that is the same for all but begins with the poor and continues with
the rich. No distinction between rich and poor is made. A love that is the
same for all and therefore simply with an order of priority.
Those who opt «preferentially» for justice, also opt, even though less preferentially,
for injustice. In the dilemma of justice and injustice, no simple preferences
are possible: the option is between mutually exclusive alternatives.
Let us remember the medieval theological position (the «ethical voluntarism»)
of those who maintained that the present moral order was not necessary but
contingent, and that it obeyed the positive and gratuitous (arbitrary) will
of God. This doctrine maintained that the moral order could have been something
else, including something that would be contrary to what it presently is,
if God had so willed it in his inscrutable and mysterious plan.
 J.M.VIGIL, Opción por los pobres, preferencial y no excluyente?
In Sobre la opción por los pobres, Sal terrae, Santander 1991,
p.57ff. This appeared in an edition in Nicaragua (Editorial Nicarao, 1991),
Chile (Rehue, 1992), Colombia (Paulinas, 1994), Ecuador (Abya Yala, 1998),
Italia (Citadella, 1992) and Brasil (Paulinas, 1992).
 At one time it was argued that the rich were the true poor (poor
spiritually, while at the same time the materially poor were blessed spiritually,
or truly rich)…. Many word games were played and concepts were juggled to
avoid facing the obvious. Casaldáliga speaks of this poetically in his work
Bienaventuranzas de la Conciliación Pastoral : Blessed are the rich,
/ because they are poor in spirit. / Blessed are the poor, / because they
are rich in Grace. / Blessed are the rich and poor, / because they are poor
and rich. / Blessed are all brothers and sisters, / because in Adam they are
brothers and sisters. / Finally, blessed / are the blessed, / who thinking
themselves as blessed / live in peace, / theirs is the kingdom of limbo.
 Poor in spirit, poor of Yahweh, virtue of poverty, anawin,
 «Option for the victims of injustice» is a precise expression
that is above the possibility of being mystified or metaphorized.
 As is the case when speaking of «natural» poverties, non-historical,
where no one is to blame for such situation.
 «The option for the poor concretizes the love of God, --his supreme
definition-- as justice on behalf of the oppressed»: Jon SOBRINO, Ibid,
 We do not need to make an «option» for women, for Native Americans,
for people of color, etc, rather the option «for the victims of injustice»
includes all these groups.
 «Essential definition» speaking in classical terminology, not
only adequately defines the object but also defines it in terms of its essence
(and not for example, on «its own» or as a group of clearly defined accidentals.
 VIGIL, J.M., ididem.
 «Poor and impoverished, oppressed and oppressors, kingdom and
anti-kingdom, God of life and idols of death, both types of reality are in
conflict and struggle and the option for one is an option against the other»:
Jon SOBRINO, ibid., p. 891.
 Classically called «the works of mercy». For this reason the preferential
option for the poor cahn be properly called «a preferential love for the poor»
-- indeed, this is what is it. The option for the poor is quite different.
 The act by which one makes an option for the poor or selects his/her
social role flows from the essential anthropological character that is called
 There is no partiality with God (Romans 2:11). The Lord of all
shows no partiality, not does he fear greatness (Wisdom 6:7). Judgment is
stern for the exalted --- the lowly may be pardoned out of mercy but the mighty
shall be mightily put to the test. Because God made the great as well as the
small and provides for all alike; but for those in power a rigorous scrutiny
impends (Wisdom 6:5, 6,8). Teacher we know that you are a truthful man and
that you teach the way of God in accordance with the truth. And you are not
concerned with anyone’s opinion, for you do not regard a person’s status (Matthew
22:16). Man sees the appearance but the Lord looks into the heart (1 Samuel
 «The struggle for justice is another name for the God of the Old
Testament and the God of Jesus»: Rufino VELASCO, La Iglesia de Jesús, Verbo
Divino, Estella, 1992, p.33.
 For example, ecclesiastical or disciplinary.
 «I personally believe that the preferential option for the poor
has produced an extraordinary yet necessary Copernican revolution in the heart
of the Church, whose significance goes beyond the ecclesial context of Latin
America and concerns the whole universal church. I truly believe that this
option signifies the most important theological-pastoral transformation since
the time of the Protestant Revolution in the XVI Century»: L. BOFF cited by
Julio LOIS in Theología de la Liberactión: Opción por los pobres, IEPALA,
Madrid, 1986, 193.
 This is implied by our preference for the dynamic adjective «impoverished»
rather than the static noun «poor» (the same could also be said for the concept
«victims of injustice»).
 When speaking of «the way of life of the rich» we refer to all
that is implied in the word «rich» -- except his/her person. Thus we refer
to their life style, their social status, the Cause that they objectively
serve, their luxury, their exploitation of the poor, their participation in
the system that exploits them…
 Either because this is how they are or because this is the way
we want to see things.
 Note the dynamic, active, process character of the adjectives.
 Sobrino says that “the option for the poor is necessary to understand
revelation.” Ibid., p. 885.
 Casaldáliga expressed the conflict between the two Gods and the
two justices in his poem Equivocos: «Where you say law / I say God.
/ Where you say justice, peace, love, / I say God! / Where you say God, /
I say liberty, / justice, / love!».